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Number of English learners declines

Largest group of immigrants recently enrolling in Burbank Unified is from Iran.

May 03, 2011|By Megan O┬┐Neil

The number of recent immigrants and English-language learners enrolled in Burbank schools declined this year, according to a pair of district reports that go to the school board this week.

The number of immigrant students — those who were born in a foreign country and first enrolled in school in the United States within the last three years — is 512, down from 610 students last year and from a high of 1,455 students in 2000-01, according to data compiled as part of the Student National Origin Report.

The largest immigrant group hails from Iran, with a total of 169 Iranian students enrolled primarily at Miller Elementary, Muir Middle and Burbank High schools. In a distant second and third are recent immigrants from Armenia and the Philippines, at 69 and 53, respectively.

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In addition, the number of students classified as English learners continued a decade-long decline, dropping this year to 1,647 students from 3,298 in 2000-01, according to a survey. The foreign languages most commonly spoken by Burbank Unified students are Spanish, followed by Armenian, Korean, Arabic and Tagalog.

Jan Britz, assistant superintendent for instructional services, said it was impossible to pinpoint one specific reason for the declines.

“In Burbank, we are inclined to keep the same families that have been here, although we do have new students moving in every year,” Britz said. “I don’t have any real answer.”

The declines in the number of recent immigrants and English-language learners enrolled will have a negligible effect on the district’s bottom line, Britz said. State law requires that the data be collected, but it is distributed purely for informational purposes, she added.

“We give it to the superintendent, and we give it the board members for them to know their own student clientele,” Britz said. “But otherwise, it is not really significant data in terms of how we educate our students.”

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